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On The Upper Room Discourse Re-Release For Lent 2024

The First Sunday of Advent

Lighting the Candle

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the
surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 1:1-3

Thanksgiving Day is over, the pumpkin pie gone, the turkey all eaten, and I survived Black Friday, so I’m excited about putting up the Christmas lights! I remember how each year it’s so much more fun to put up the Christmas lights than it is to take them down. But that’s because I love the lights of Christmas. I love lights on the tree, lights on the houses, lights on the shops, and the candlelight on Christmas Eve. There is something about the lights of Christmas shining in the darkness that stirs me.

The importance of light in our lives is dramatically presented on the first page of the Bible, as in the beginning darkness covers the earth. But God commands, “Let there be light, and there was light”. With these momentous words the epic battle between light and darkness begins.

Darkness is opposed to God’s purpose of goodness and beauty in the world, so much so that God’s first creative act is to bring forth light to shine in the darkness, to oppose and overcome it. What’s the first thing we do when the power goes off and the lights go out, but to look for a candle or flashlight to extinguish the darkness. Here, on this first Sunday of Advent, we consider the beginning of God’s grand story of salvation and triumph over darkness.

Darkness is an apt metaphor for some of our most profound experiences. Darkness is a spiritual reality in our world, a spiritual force; Scripture speaks of “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13). Although there is darkness on the first page of the Bible, by the time we reach the Bible’s last page God’s defeat of darkness will be complete. “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).

There is promise here in today’s Genesis text as the Spirit of God hovers over the darkness and begins pushing back. God begins the dividing of the darkness from the light. As we enter the darkest season of the year, we joyously put up our bright Christmas lights, and light our Advent candles. We know that the darkness shall not prevail. With each shining light we proclaim Jesus Christ as God’s true light who “shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).




Father God, as we begin Advent, we light one candle in the midst of the darkness. This candle symbolizes our faith that one day all darkness and pain and sorrow will be overcome. We look for the new day when death will be no more, neither sorrow, nor pain. Let this candle be our reminder of our hope for your Coming, your triumph over darkness. Amen.

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